In­dus­try needs a pol­i­tick of ap­proval

With Queens­land head­ing to the polls next week­end, it’s a good time to tell politi­cians eye­ing pub­lic of­fice what’s nec­es­sary to keep the prop­erty sec­tor fir­ing on all cylin­ders, SOPHIE FOSTER re­ports

The Courier-Mail - Property - - REALESTATE NEWS -

QUEENS­LAND prop­erty ex­perts agree that po­lit­i­cal will for re­form is key if the state’s prop­erty sec­tor is to have any hope of su­per­charg­ing dur­ing the next three years.

With the state elec­tion just a week away, in­dus­try at­ten­tion has ze­roed in on plan­ning re­forms and the raft of red tape, fees and charges fac­ing the prop­erty sec­tor.

Real Es­tate In­sti­tute of Queens­land chief ex­ec­u­tive An­to­nia Mer­corella (pic­tured be­low) took on an old foe, stamp duty, call­ing on politi­cians of all stripes to com­mit to the abo­li­tion of the tax.

Now known as trans­fer du­ties, Queens­land’s charges are some of the low­est in the coun­try, but Ms Mer­corella said it still im­posed ex­tra costs on prop­erty trans­ac­tions, “dis­cour­ag­ing turnover of hous­ing and dis­tort­ing choices be­tween rent­ing and buy­ing”.

“We’re chal­leng­ing the state’s law­mak­ers to en­sure real es­tate re­form is at the top of the po­lit­i­cal agenda through­out 2015,” she said. “The real es­tate in­dus­try is vi­tal to the state’s pros­per­ity and we want to see fur­ther re­forms in­tro­duced in Queens­land, in­clud­ing abo­li­tion of stamp duty on prop­erty trans­ac­tions, re­in­state­ment of first-home owner grants for ex­ist­ing hous­ing; and al­low­ing first home­buy­ers to ac­cess their su­per­an­nu­a­tion to pur­chase a prop­erty.”

Ms Mer­corella said the prop­erty sec­tor al­ready made up more than $8 bil­lion of gross state prod­uct and em­ployed over 50,000 peo­ple.

Hous­ing In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Queens­land War­wick Tenby said one ini­tia­tive that had helped the in­dus­try was the $15,000 first-home buy­ers grant – which cur­rently only ap­plied to new build­ings.

He said it would be good for the in­dus­try if the gov­ern­ment main­tained the grants pro­gram, even if it didn’t end up ex­tend­ing it to ex­ist­ing hous­ing – some­thing REIQ hoped for.

Queens­land still had nig­gling red-tape is­sues when it came to prop­erty pa­per­work and charges, Mr Tenby said, in­clud­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ments tak­ing on is­sues that were al­ready cov­ered by other build­ing codes and stan­dards.

“A high pri­or­ity is get­ting some State Gov­ern­ment com­mit­ment to take a hard line with lo­cal gov­ern­ments who are in­creas­ingly want­ing to get in­volved in plan­ning schemes, adding ex­tra costs in the thou­sands to very sim­ple hous­ing de­vel­op­ments,” he said.

“Prop­erty is key to Queens­land’s growth over the next three years. Hous­ing is one of the few bright spots on the eco­nomic hori­zon for Queens­land and so it’s very im­por­tant that the gov­ern­ment en­sures it can let in­dus­try get on with it. The in­dus­try is a very im­por­tant em­ployer (here).”

Queens­lan­ders head to the polls next week­end to choose 89 mem­bers of the state’s uni­cam­eral par­lia­ment who serve a three-year term.

Master Builders deputy ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Paul Bid­well said Queens­land had seen im­prove­ments but fur­ther pol­icy re­forms were nec­es­sary to keep up growth mo­men­tum.

“Changes to work­ers’ com­pen­sa­tion and right-ofen­try laws have both helped to im­prove ef­fi­ciency and cre­ate con­fi­dence, while re­forms to the build­ing-in­dus­try reg­u­la­tor, the Queens­land Build­ing and Con­struc­tion Com­mis­sion, have gone a long way to ad­dress­ing prob­lems with build­ing dis­putes and li­cens­ing,” he said.

Mr Bid­well sup­ported drop­ping stamp duty and said build­ing costs needed to be con­tained.

“We are keen to work with the new gov­ern­ment to help shape their pri­or­i­ties for Queens­land’s build­ing and con­struc­tion in­dus­try and to build on the re­forms that have al­ready been im­ple­mented.”

The lat­est ANZ Prop­erty Coun­cil March Quar­ter 2015 survey put the Queens­land gov­ern­ment’s plan­ning re­form per­for­mance above all other states, more than dou­ble that of New South Wales and Tas­ma­nia – the only other states with pos­i­tive rank­ings.

ANZ chief economist War­ren Ho­gan said pos­i­tive prop­erty val­ues and con­struc­tion were crit­i­cal to Aus­tralia’s eco­nomic out­look.

Prop­erty Coun­cil of Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive Ken Mor­ri­son said the in­dus­try was emerg­ing as the main driver of eco­nomic and jobs growth.

“Smart politi­cians should take heed. Do­ing what’s right for this sec­tor might just be the best way for them to get them­selves elected,” he said.

Queens­lan­ders go to the polls next week­end at a time when real es­tate in­dus­try ex­perts have called for greate

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